It was a little like the age-old excuse, ‘the dog ate my homework’, we all knew the truth, but nobody wanted to say. Both old boys had come up with elaborate stories as to why they’d really love to travel to Aldershot, but just on this occasion they unfortunately couldn’t make it. These armchair football fans, the moment it’s on the telly…
‘Have you got any Kyle Minogue?’ was his very first question, not ‘Good morning, guys, how’s it going.’ We’d taken a chance on car sharing to fill the gap on the back seat, and now the normal peace and tranquillity was shattered in the very first moment. The next question was ‘Can I put my big flag out of the car window on the way down?’ To be fair Shayman Jim’s son Alfie was calm and relaxed, but it was certainly going to be an interesting 233-mile journey south.
It’s safe to say we covered every topic under the sun as we travelled south, players, tactics, home form, away form, opposition and the latest goings on in Emmerdale Farm. It’s sometimes uncomfortably true that being stuck in the car with a few Town fans, for most of the day, is really the highlight of our week. It’s something we all look forward to, a change to the day to day, with the opportunity for a day to remember or a day to forget and on this occasion, for a day out with Jim.
The whirlwind continued as we arrived at Cove AFC, a Combined Counties Division One game, just outside of Farnborough. We’d set off early as traffic was unpredictable and there was no chance of our usual breakfast if we’d set off at a sensible time. A visit to Cove was our reward for getting up early. The clubhouse was welcoming, the admission was cheap, the football was entertaining, and we made up about 20% of the crowd. We left at half time with the score at 3-1, it ended up 6-2. I’m sure they appreciated the extra takings at the bar and the peace and quiet after we left.
Aldershot’s Recreation Ground is one of my favourite places in our league. The club are always relaxed when we’re in town. No enforced segregation, but a designated spot where away fans can watch the game. The ground hasn’t changed for years with red and blue ironwork everywhere. The stands were built in the 1930’s, and the old turnstiles are rusting under the wooden floor of the stand. There are traditional floodlight pylons with loads of bulbs surrounded by lots of trees, just starting to turn autumnal in the adjacent park. The pitch is decent, and at just £8.50 for a burger, Tesco Pete was in his element.
The game started with an immaculate tribute to the Queen, and every empty space in the home end was filled with a Union Jack flag. The local veterans from the armed forces accompanied the teams on to the pitch, and bagpipes were played at the end of a minute’s silence before the accomplished drummers in the home end fired up the home support for the kick off.
At half time the Shaymen were 2-1 down, we’d equalised after conceding a soft opening goal and then shortly afterwards conceded again. The game had started reasonably well, we made a few chances and looked a good match for the home side. The travelling 36 Shaymen were perplexed and frustrated with the way the half had gone, it could have been so very different.
The second half wasn’t great, we moved spots and headed behind the goal in the family stand. The Shaymen were kicking in that direction, and we hoped to see some of the action close-up. We watched as Aldershot took complete control, scoring three further goals at the far end in front of the colourful and noisy home end. We had the privilege or sitting amongst lots of enthusiastic younger home fans, gosh they enjoyed themselves!
Driving back and only Jim was full of beans, he always looks for the positives and kept us entertained as we listened to the ‘Sounds of the 90’s’ on the radio. He’s already planning his trip to Eastleigh, I’m sure we’ll all be there too.
Miles on the road 1819, Goals on the road 4.
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